Like anything new and wildly successful, Richard Meier's all-glass Perry Street towers inspired many imitations?some even designed by the starchitect himself. First came his Charles Street companion to complete the West Village triplets, and then in a bold move fueled by the unstoppable (heh.) luxury real estate market, Meier's modernist roadshow was exported to Brooklyn. It was pretentious, it was transparent, it was deadly. And now, one sagging real estate market later, Meier's On Prospect Park is mostly empty. Christine Haughney filed a lengthy look at the current state of OPP in the Sunday Times, including updates on sales and the emotional well-being of building residents. Here's a handy summary:
The sales: The developers say half the 99 units are sold, but for now StreetEasy shows only around 25 closings. Prices have been cut by as much as 40 percent, and some units were combined (there used to be 114 apartments) to boost the percentage sold numbers. Buyers have "walked away from at least $20 million worth of contracts."
The loneliness: Residents have formed an Internet chat group to swap building anecdotes, and have organized a book club and various play dates to build a community within OPP. Says one building resident, "Some people would like to see this building fail."
The retirement home?: Haughney spoke to a pair of retired couples who bought in the building in order to move closer to relatives. One octogenarian said she wasn't worried about the declining value of her $3.1 million apartment because "her next condo would be a coffin." She didn't specify whether Meier would be designing that one as well.
The glass house lifestyle: The Meierlings have grown accustomed to neighbors seeing their every move (they even wave, sometimes), but there are complaints about other building details. It's hard to find the microwaves in the minimalist kitchens, and the pale walls "quickly grow covered with children's fingerprints." Oh, and FreshDirect always delivers their groceries to the Brooklyn Public Library across the street, because OPP snatched its 1 Grand Army Plaza address.
The neighbors: Some Prospect Heightsers that protested the out-of-neighborhood-character creation now love the building, if only because they get to spy on rich people. One 90-year-old neighbor even penned an ode to the building "which she sent, unbidden, to The New York Times." Sample: "The naked steel girders go/up in hubris steps. Gone the haven of brick and stone and wood,/gone the primal niche of interiority."
The party line: It's not a failure, says Richard Meier. "The people who live there love it," he says, adding that he'd be game to build in Brooklyn again. The developers say the interest rates on their loans are low, so they're "prepared to ride the storm."
The final depressing image: Seen from Grand Army Plaza at night, the building looks "not unlike a Christmas tree stripped of all but a handful of lights."
· Glass Half Empty: Richard Meier’s Brooklyn Tower [NYT]
· On Prospect Park [Official Site]